Amir Malik's Guidance Gives international students logical criteria for choosing a university that's right for them.
Once on campus, students may get confused as to what classes they really need for an undergrad degree and whether or not they should head to graduate studies. Confusion sets in and degrees are often in jeoparady.
Amir Malik is a guide for students from the Middle East, North Africa and around the world who want to earn a degree from an American university. His company, Youruniversitysuccess.com, offers a range of services that help students evaluate their personal goals. The market he serves continues to grow.
The United States remains the world's top academic destination for international students. Figures from the International Educational Exchange in 2014 showed that 886,052 students were enrolled at colleges and universities. That was an eight percent increase from the year before.
How tough is it for them to find the right fit? Amir says students often choose schools that friends and family members have attended.
“Even if the school does not match their needs, they choose it anyway. Specifically students from the Gulf countries choose universities that lack serious academic rigor,” he says. “They just do not know how to navigate the U.S. university system.”
“It is estimated that Saudi Arabia itself has spent over $100,000,000 on students who never attained any type of degree during their time as a student in America,” he says.
Countries are starting to enact more restrictions as many students spent years learning English and then pursuing undesired degrees in fourth-tier universities.
"It takes organization, preparation and discipline," says Amir whose family has a global perspective. His father immigrated and settled near Chicago in 1967 to pursue a doctorate degree. His sister, Fatima Malik, is a real estate agent in Los Angeles with a large number of international clients.
"Don’t expect to just show up in the U.S. and have everything work out," he says. "If you were not willing to make any plans in your country and you were not able to develop your English skills there, that lack of work ethic will follow you to the competitive American university environment. If you are willing to work hard and work within the system, there is no better place in the world to study than America."
Beyond the university, leaving families and settling in the United States often leads to culture shock. A Brookings report found that international students often come from fast-growing metropolises. Universities in rural areas with a slower pace of life anchored near acres of farmland and green trees are seeing their international student populations grow, too.
Amir enjoys helping students find their way and get on a path to success. Providing a solution can be like piecing together a puzzle. A man from Morocco had been changing majors and felt lost. Graduation seemed like it was never going to happen. "[Amir] was so knowledgeable that when he looked at my transcript he was able to find out that with minor changes, I could graduate with a double major," wrote the student who was not identified.
Reaching a university in the United States is a dream for many students around the world. Complex challenges they never expected to encounter are part of the tough reality. Amir Malik finds ways to work through circumstances to help students remain on track so their dreams of graduation become real and attainable.